Day: December 11, 2008

Hooray for Colin Powell!

Retired General Colin Powell has always been a figure to admire, and his upcoming interview this Sunday on CNN with Fareed Zakaria is indeed another indication of how great a person he is.  This is a man who can grow and change by his experiences and he makes two points that I can wholeheartedly agree with.

First, Powell makes clear that Sarah Palin polarized the Republican party in the fall campaign and that her rhetoric and that of Joe the Plumber made the Republican party a party directed toward a narrow base, unwilling to promote unity but rather division.  Powell pointed out that the country over the next generation and more will become a nation in which minorities become the majority, and that the GOP cannot have a future if it fails to address the issues that affect African Americans,  Hispanic Americans and Asian Americans.  The party is doomed unless it adjusts to reality and starts to appeal to those groups who were part of the Obama coalition. 

Also, Powell, a long time opponent of gays in the military and a supporter of "don’t ask, don’t tell", now feels there is a need to readdress the issue, and that is a tremendous boost toward the end of discrimination, which has harmed recruitment and caused the loss of talented soldiers who were forced out because of their sexual orientation.  A number of European nations and Israel have managed to adjust to reality and have benefited by ending the bias against gays, and they have had no problems of discipline and order, as many critics have alleged would happen.  This is a great step forward toward ending barriers to acceptance of gay rights, and I applaud Powell for his growth and increased tolerance.  He is indeed a great man who has earned the respect of the American people and can assist in the upcoming changes in the military.

The Illinois Senate Seat Nightmare

I was literally taken aback when I learned earlier this week of the attempt of Governor Rod Blagojevich of Illinois to disgrace the former Senate seat of Barack Obama by offering it to the highest bidder, rather than taking seriously his responsibility to replace the President Elect with a distinguished person who could dignify that office and serve his Illinois constituents.  It is also tragic that the Republican opposition and the conservative talk show hosts are attempting to make this an issue to interfere with the important work that Barack Obama is engaged in as he plans for the inauguration on January 20, 2009.

It is clear that Governor Blagojevich needs to do the right thing and resign, or face impeachment or judicial removal which would prolong the agony and further disgrace the state of Illinois, at a time when Illinois, the sixth largest state in population, needs full representation in the US Senate.  The Lieutenant Governor, Pat Quinn has an excellent reputation and should become governor and select who is best, in his opinion, for that Senate seat, and then the voters will decide in 2010 if that person should retain the seat or someone else should take over the seat in the Senate.

Unfortunately, the controversy surrounding Congressman Jesse Jackson, Jr. being  "Candidate No.5" who supposedly had offered to pay a bribe to get the appointment does great harm to Jackson’s chances of gaining that Senate appointment.  Jackson has been a hard working Congressman and has a great reputation among his colleagues and has made clear that he had done no such thing, but under the present circumstances, it would seem to me that the best choice, at least to 2010, when everyone who is interested can compete in the primary and election process, is Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky of Chicago, who also has a solid reputation for hard work and principle.  I hope this whole controversy will be resolved rapidly for the benefit of the voters of Illinois.